Volunteers are a nonprofit’s heartbeat. They help with day-to-day operations, they’re wonderful ambassadors to the community, and they’re more likely to be financial supporters than people who don’t volunteer. There are lots of ways to find volunteers, but here are some resources that are great options if you want to boost your ranks.
1. Social media
This one kind of goes without saying, so it comes first. Making volunteer appeals on Facebook and Twitter can be really effective, especially if you pair your appeals with compelling, shareable content.
2. LinkedIn for Nonprofits
LinkedIn, the website known for its business-focused networking capabilities, has a secret weapon for nonprofits. Their “LinkedIn for Nonprofits” service is a great resource for nonprofits and for volunteers looking for work. If you’re a nonprofit, you can specify that you’re looking for volunteers (either paid or non-paid), write descriptions for the work you need done, choose preferred skillsets, and more. You have to pay to post an ad, but the fees are reasonable and can bring up some great results. This option is best if you’re looking for someone with a specific job in mind (like, say, a vet tech for an animal shelter), but can also be useful if you’re looking for more general volunteers (like someone to wash the dogs at the same shelter).
Think of VolunteerMatch.org as a matchmaking site for nonprofits and volunteers. Nonprofits and volunteers alike can make their own “profile” and look for matches based on their compatibility. It’s easy for volunteers to search for nonprofits based on their missions; a high school teacher, for example, may want to volunteer with an organization with an education focus, or an art student might want to work with an art therapy program. Just create a profile and you’re on your way!
Idealist.org is a fantastic resource for nonprofits jobs and volunteering opportunities. It’s a lot like LinkedIn for Nonprofits in that you create a profile and can post volunteer opportunities. It’s also great if you need a paid staff member for those jobs that demand more than a volunteer can offer.
5. Local Schools and Churches
These resources are often overlooked by nonprofits. Students in high school frequently need to log volunteer hours in order to graduate and need help finding volunteer opportunities. College students are often on the lookout for ways to build their portfolios or get some work experience before they graduate. Nonprofits connect with students by reaching out to the heads of schools, collegiate departments, or college business centers. Churches are a good resource for connecting with students and are often open to working with or supporting faith-based organizations.
Here are a few pointers for finding and keeping great volunteers:
- Don’t make a habit of asking professionals to do something for free when they would usually charge money for it. Some people may be willing to devote their time and expertise, but many people are frustrated by others who expect them to work for free. If money is an issue, let them offer their services to you, or see if they can work for you for a predetermined fee on a payment schedule.
- Make your volunteers feel appreciated. They’re taking time out of their schedules to support you — let them know you appreciate it! They’ll be more likely to volunteer again or to step up their support in other ways.
- Be flexible with your volunteers’ schedules. This is especially important for younger volunteers who may be in school, have extracurricular activities, or are working.
- Don’t waste their time. Everyone, most notably younger volunteers, are keenly aware of how valuable their time is. If they feel like their time is being wasted, they’re not likely to continue working with you. Focus on offering volunteers specific jobs with tangible goals.